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Local Student’s Green Life Gets Her to Sundance

Brittany Frandsen, a 20-year-old film student at Columbia College Chicago, is on her way to the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, but not because of a film. It was her environmentally friendly South Loop apartment that got her there.

Frandsen was the winner of Brita’s Filter For Good green room contest, a national competition rewarding the college student with the greenest apartment with two tickets to Sundance.

“I developed my greenness on my own,” Frandsen said. The contest didn’t motivate this lifestyle change, it was instead a way for her to showcase her green lifestyle already in progress. “Usually it saves me money, and it’s just a matter of changing your routine.”

Frandsen has been living totally green since moving into her own apartment this year. She admitted that in the past having roommates hindered her from living in a totally environmentally friendly way, but now it is all simply habit. Her green lifestyle choices range from unplugging appliances to not flushing the toilet to getting rid of food scraps in worm composts and, of course, using a Brita water filter.

Her studio apartment lends a hand to her greenness by providing floor to ceiling windows which let in light throughoutGreen List the day, even on cloudy days, eliminating the need to use electricity for light throughout the morning and afternoon. The furniture, found through dumpster diving, are colorful additions to the room, with a Japanese room divider and a bamboo plant over 3 feet tall adding artistic flair to the apartment. A drying rack used in place of a drier and two worm compost bins are reminders of the room’s environmentally friendly-nature.

“Things to me that I don’t even think about my friends are like, ‘how can you do that?'” Frandsen said. Once she discovered the advertisement for the contest on the sidebar of the Web site Pandora Radio, all her friends encouraged her to enter, knowing she already lived that way.

“Most of all we wanted to know what college students are doing because we know they are some of the leaders in making small changes,” said Lisa Ptak, the public relations representative for Brita, a company that promotes the use of their filtered water in reusable bottles instead of forcing customers to buy plastic water bottles. She said the main purpose of the contest was to reward students who are already engaging in a green lifestyle. Brita recently has been giving out $50,000 worth of eco-grants to further reward green college students.

“When Britt told me about the contest we rearranged her room, and I helped take over 50 pictures,” said Erica Ravi, Frandsen’s girlfriend and her plus-one for the trip to Sundance.

Entering the contest required a photo showcasing the green qualities of the room, as well as the creative decor, and a 100-word essay describing the actions taken towards a greener apartment. Once entered, 10 finalists were chosen and the overall winner was based on a voting process that took place on Filter For Good’s Facebook page.

According to Frandsen, she was one of the last to enter in order to ensure everything about her entry was perfect. The first day of the six day contest she was in second place until 7 p.m., and after that she never dropped down from first place. However, she never felt fully confident she had won until it was officially announced.

“There was never a vote tally so I never knew how close it was,” Frandsen said. “On Saturday night [when voting closed] it was like, ‘We won! Maybe…'”

The following Tuesday Frandsen got a confirmation call that she had won the trip as well as a Flip video camera and a Brita prize package, including a Brita filter, a faucet mount and five Nalgene bottles. She was then debriefed on her trip to Sundance and certain responsibilities she would have once there as contest winner.

“Brittany will be doing updates from Sundance with her Flip cam, and the footage will be shared on the Filter For Good Web site and the Facebook page,” Ptak said.

“I think [Frandsen] deserved it, but I think she could have tried to be more green,” said Daniel Burg, a student from Idaho who got fifth place in the contest. “I think it’s cool to bike everywhere and not use water bottles, but you need to have more.”

Malia Griggs, 20, a student from Columbia, S.C. and the third place contestant, wishes Frandsen the best of luck on her trip to Sundance and doesn’t feel upset that Frandsen beat her. Unlike Burg, she felt Frandsen was going above and beyond with some of her green choices.

“I was really impressed by the stuff people were doing,” Griggs said. “I was glad to know there were other people who were interested in the environment.”

The schedule of films playing at Sundance was recently posted, and Frandsen will be picking out films as part of her preparation for the trip, hoping to see two a day for the four days she is there. Once in Utah, Frandsen will have access to all things Brita, including the Brita Green Room where the filmmakers and stars will wait to be interviewed for the Sundance Channel.

“Ideally, I want to finish my Web site and hand out business cards for it there,” Frandsen said, taking advantage of the fact that she will be a film student at a major film festival.

Frandsen is grateful that Brita acknowledged her green living and encourages others to do the same.

“It’s pretty simple and you can do as much as you want to,” Frandsen said. “It’s as simple as just adding the step of unplugging the computer after turning it off.”

The Sundance Film Festival will take place from Jan. 21-31 and Frandsen’s videos from Brita’s Green Room and the streets of Park City will be on Brita’s Filter For Good Web site at

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